It was essentially a tale of two seasons for Fernando Salas, as he was able to turn a brutal first half of the year into a fairly impressive finish. He carried a 5.05 ERA with eight home runs allowed into the halfway point but followed that up with a 2.48 mark with 34 strikeouts in 32.2 innings in the back half. Though he started getting some save opportunities with the Angels once he started turning it around, Salas was dealt to the Mets at the end of August. The 31-year-old was especially effective with his new club over the final month, working to a 2.08 ERA and 9.9 K/9 while not issuing a single walk in 17 appearances. The six saves he recorded in 2016 were his first since closing with the Cardinals in 2011, and though his HR/9 spiked to a career-worst 1.5, his strong finish to the season will likely allow him to find his way into high-leverage situations again with the Mets in 2017.
Salas will serve as the Mets' closer Friday should a save situation arise, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports. Manager Terry Collins has to get creative with his bullpen Friday after the Mets survived a 16-inning marathon against the Marlins to open the series. Salas did fire two scoreless frames in Thursday's win, but with Hansel Robles, Josh Smoker, and Addison Reed all getting the night off, he'll be the temporary closer. Expect Addison Reed to reclaim closing duties as early as Saturday.
Salas gave up a hit and struck out one in 0.2 innings of relief during Monday's Grapefruit League game against the Tigers. He was a late arrival in camp due to visa issues and the WBC, but Salas still has just enough time left on the spring schedule to get ready for Opening Day. With Jeurys Familia expected to face a suspension to begin the season, Salas could find himself as the Mets top right-handed set-up man in April.
Salas arrived at camp with the Mets on Sunday after finally getting a work visa, and he'll make his first appearance of the spring Monday, the New York Daily News reports. He pitched in a couple of games for Team Mexico at the WBC, but Salas is still behind the rest of the bullpen when it comes to getting ready for Opening Day. Mets manager Terry Collins suggested he might use Salas every other day for the rest of the exhibition schedule so that the righty can catch up.
Salas has not yet acquired his work visa and reported to camp with the Mets, the New York Daily News reports. He was expected to pick up the visa back home in Mexico during the WBC, but that plan apparently fell apart. Salas suggested his difficulty getting the visa stems from the fact that he re-signed with the Mets late in the offseason, but if he isn't able to attend spring training soon, his availability for Opening Day could be in some jeopardy. The team's already expecting Jeurys Familia to be unavailable in April due to a suspension, so losing Salas as well -- even if only for a week or two -- could put a lot of early strain on the bullpen.
Salas said Sunday his work visa is finally ready and that he'll rejoin the team after picking it up, James Wagner of The New York Times reports. Salas has yet to make a spring training appearance this year due to issues surrounding his work permit, but it sounds like he should be able to get some Grapefruit action in soon. The 31-year-old was fairly effective after being traded by the Angels to New York last year, fanning 19 batters and posting a 2.08 ERA in limited action (17.1 innings), so the Mets will undoubtedly be hoping for more of the same from the middle reliever in 2017.
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